Gaining customer trust in the cookieless era


30-second summary:

  • The end of third-party cookies brings an opportunity for brands to build relationships of trust with their customers. Ultimately, cultivating trust comes down to how brands handle customer data, however they come by it.
  • Part of adopting a new approach to engaging with data is considering when and how first-party personal information is collected. The “how” is an important foundational detail, as it may set the tone for the marketer’s relationship with the customer, determining whether or not a customer chooses to opt-in to share their information at all.
  • Even after consent is obtained, customers and prospects have the right to change their minds. It’s an ongoing conversation between a customer and a brand, and so the ability to grant or revoke consent at multiple points in time is critical.
  • Smart data use provides relevancy, and the brands that are positioned to thrive in a world without third-party cookies will likely be those that recognize a simple truth: You earn the right to be personal by first being relevant.
  • Ultimately, it’s up to the brand to use it to deliver better content and experiences and grow its customer relationships.

The end of third-party cookies brings an opportunity for brands to build relationships of trust with their customers. Ultimately, cultivating trust comes down to how brands handle customer data, however they come by it.

If done thoughtfully, the desired result is a customer-centric approach to digital engagement. Brands and marketers have an opportunity to not only build trust, but also foster meaningful connections that lead to continued brand loyalty.

Meaningful and emotional connections between a brand and customer can lead consumers to deem brands worthy of their data, with Deloitte Digital research showing that consumers are generally willing to share information about themselves with the companies they trust.

To change the way brands handle the data they have access to, a new approach to data privacy is a starting point.

As we move closer to 2022, when third-party cookies will no longer be supported by major browsers, marketers have both an opportunity and obligation to put consumers at the forefront.

Ideally, their approach should center around six specific capabilities that give consumers personal control and informed consent around their identity and information: strong and fine-grained preference and consent management; transparency of data practices; explicit opt-in; self-service data access; easy capabilities to revoke consent and delete data; and up-to-date information.

Today’s more tech-savvy consumers are more security conscious than ever, and brands that want their attention need to provide frictionless methods of authentication and authorization. To provide a positive digital identity experience, it should be easy, secure, and valuable.

Establishing trust

Part of adopting a new approach to engaging with data is considering when and how first-party personal information is collected.

The “how” is an important foundational detail, as it may set the tone for the marketer’s relationship with the customer, determining whether or not a customer chooses to opt-in to share their information at all.

The same research by Deloitte Digital found that consumers are generally open to a favorite brand knowing more than they believe the brand already knows about them.

The research found that more than 50% of respondents were comfortable with brands knowing their age, birthday, home address, the reason for their purchase, and even purchase preferences. This implies that the more they trust, the more they are willing to share.

As in all relationships where trust has to be earned, the lesson is that transparency builds trust – identifying the right moments within a customer’s journey to ask for this information and accompanying it with a clear explanation of how it is going to be used is key.

Timing is important as a brand doesn’t want to ask for too much, too soon. Often this means asking for basic information to start and demonstrating how it’s benefitting a customer’s experience before returning to ask for more data.

A privacy interface that allows strong and fine-grained preference and consent management keeps customers in control as these requests are made, so at any given time they can easily change their mind about what data they want a brand to know and how it can be used.

With a centralized place to accumulate these changes, brands are able to uphold the trust of their customers by implementing requests while also ensuring transparency.

Brands should also consider incorporating multiple methods of proofing to validate their customer’s identity, which can help reduce the likelihood of an impersonator using someone else’s identity to connect.

It’s also vital for the privacy interface to break up consent requests in a manner that clearly communicates what customers are consenting to and allows them to accept some and reject others.

Transparency of data practices empowers customers to make such informed decisions via an interface that clearly explains how the customers’ data will be used, who it will be shared with, what third parties it will be sold to, what controls/security are in place, and what choices customers have.

Customers have preferences when it comes to both what data they are willing to share and how they want it to be used. That’s why an explicit opt-in is not the preferred default when collecting consents.

Rather, customers proactively choose to opt in so they maintain control of their data and information and make their own decisions.

For example, a brand can be an ally to a customer, subsequently growing trust, by considering how minors’ data is handled in advance, building in capabilities for parents and guardians to safeguard their children.

Gathering consent doesn’t have to compromise the user experience or divert from a brand’s voice; customers should see it as part of their interaction with a brand.

Providing choices

Even after consent is obtained, customers and prospects have the right to change their minds. It’s an ongoing conversation between a customer and a brand, and so the ability to grant or revoke consent at multiple points in time is critical.

This can be made possible by providing customers with self-service data access or an on-demand method to access their personal data or scale their requests. Easy capabilities to revoke consent as well as delete data also make this possible.

Besides the relationship benefits of cultivating such trust, there are also legal requirements brands to fulfill and carry out customer requests. Marketers need to be able to confirm the identity of the customer submitting such a request and execute it within the response time required by law.

To ensure up-to-date information and compliance with evolving policies, a nimble interface is key. It’s beneficial for the interface to also support a model for notification about what has changed – and what choices a customer has to block the use, sharing, and sale of data related to those changes.

Focusing on quality over quantity

Fundamental to the success of deploying the six capabilities and the value they can provide to marketers is that brands think through the types and qualities of data they are collecting.

Brands also need to consider the second and third parties they are partnering with for additional insights, targeting, and attribution purposes.

While leaning into closed media ecosystems provides a strong layer of persistent data, marketers’ own data privacy and consent management opt-ins and opt-outs must be upheld alongside customer permission to use these third parties.

This adds an additional consideration for marketers, as brands are responsible for carrying out the preferences and requests of their consumers. In turn, it pays to be selective about what data a marketer is gathering.

There is no value in collecting information from someone who is not your audience or does not support your effort. More data means more work for managers and more preferences to consider – not to mention potential risks to compliance.

The process is made easier by being in tune with the types and quality of data a brand collects, who it is from, and how it is part of their overall experience.

A brand’s data needs to be valuable to its target audience and help provide better content and experience to customers.

When put into practice appropriately, data has the potential to facilitate a personalized customer experience  – for example, a recommendation of a cool-blue comforter made of bamboo fibers, because the brand knows that same customer previously purchased blue drapes and products made of renewable materials, and that cold weather is forecast for the customer’s ZIP code.

By examining data through this lens, marketers can better identify what data is meaningful.

Moving beyond cookies to build trust

Smart data use provides relevancy, and the brands that are positioned to thrive in a world without third-party cookies will likely be those that recognize a simple truth: You earn the right to be personal by first being relevant.

The capabilities outlined here can serve as a guide to creating an accessible data usage interface that gives customers the power and freedom to know how their data is being used, and, ultimately, provide a better customer experience.

Carefully considering the complexity of technology and system integration requirements for combining identity and data management can better manage privacy while facilitating better experiences.

With customers engaging with brands less in-store or in-person, it’s more important for marketers to nurture these engagements online and furnish opportunities for customers to build an affinity with the brand that leads them to share their data.

After that, it’s up to the brand to use it to deliver better content and experiences and grow its customer relationships.



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